How Did Most Kings in Ancient Greece Come to Power After the First )?

In ancient Greece, the process of how kings came to power after the first was varied and often influenced by political, military, and familial factors. Let’s explore some of the most common paths to power for kings in ancient Greece.

1. Hereditary Succession

One of the most prevalent methods of becoming a king in ancient Greece was through hereditary succession.

In this system, the throne would pass from the current king to his legitimate son or closest male relative. This ensured that power remained within a specific family lineage.


The succession of kings in Sparta followed this pattern. When a reigning king died or abdicated, his son or nearest male relative would ascend to the throne.

2. Election by Nobles

In some city-states, kings were elected by a council of nobles or aristocrats. These individuals would choose a candidate who they believed possessed the necessary qualities to rule effectively.


In early Athens, the nobles elected their king from among their ranks based on his reputation and abilities as a military leader.

3. Military Conquest

Another way kings came to power in ancient Greece was through military conquest. A successful military commander could seize control of a city-state and establish himself as its ruler.


Alexander the Great is an excellent example of this method. Through his conquests, he became not only the king of Macedonia but also established an empire that stretched from Greece to Egypt and India.

4. Appointment by Oracle

The Greeks often sought guidance from oracles – religious figures believed to have direct communication with the gods. In some cases, an oracle would appoint a king based on divine guidance.


In ancient Delphi, the oracle played a significant role in the selection of kings. They would communicate with the gods and provide guidance on who should be the next ruler.

5. Usurpation

In rare instances, ambitious individuals would seize power through force, overthrowing the current king and establishing themselves as the new ruler.


Dionysius I of Syracuse is an example of a king who came to power through usurpation. He successfully overthrew his predecessor and established himself as the tyrant of Syracuse.

In conclusion, kings in ancient Greece came to power through a variety of methods such as hereditary succession, election by nobles, military conquest, appointment by oracles, and even usurpation. These different paths to power highlight the complex nature of politics in ancient Greek city-states.